Change Catalyst with Shanna Mann: Strategy & Support for Sane Self-Employment

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Field-tested Methods for Dealing with Overwhelm

[I’m back from SILENT RETREAT but still collecting my thoughts. Besides, I thought this might be useful in the meantime.]

It’s been a busy month, people.

It’s been taxing.

Actually, it’s been just a notch below overwhelming. And I say that only because I was able to soldier on, which means it didn’t completely overwhelm me.

And given the number of times I’ve heard “I know exactly what you mean,” when describing my state of mind, I thought I would offer a resource. And, you know, notes for me to refer back to. šŸ™‚

  1. Write it down. This is more than an ad hoc to-do list. By writing down the things that were most on my mind, I was better able to triage them. The book I was working on was freaking me out way more than the blog posts, so the book got priority. Otherwise, it was too easy to let the book slide in favor of the quicker win of the posts.
  2. Pomodoro technique. Usually, I work in 20/20/20 blocks (two different projects and a “break” to do social media stuff). But this month, I needed a more focussed method. 25 minutes of work, 5 minutes of stretching, resting my eyes, and drinking water. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
  3. Excellent maintenance. This is my besetting sin: forgetting to take care of myself when I’m busy. This time I did half an hour on the Wii with my husband, made a point of eating healthy snacks, and brought a pitcher of lemon water to my office.
  4. Smile. This was a shock to me. Around day 10, I started to really have tight shoulders and a sore back. Then I realized that my “concentrating face” had gotten SERIOUSLY FIERCE. I looked like I was battling to the death with my word processor– and that the battle wasn’t going well. I stuck a post-it to the monitor, and the aches and (most of the) tension vanished.
  5. Relax. To me, this generally means I have passed the point of diminishing returns and there is no point in continuing. But, I learned to catch myself, and stop mid-afternoon to play Wii, nap/meditate on the bed, or sit on the patio.
  6. Put down some balls. As much as I like to juggle (having 3-5 projects on the go is how I like to roll) when I realized how much I was stressing about having quality content prepared for you guys, I decided to call SILENT RETREAT and stick a ‘Gone Fishing’ sign on the blog. I love you guys too much to want to phone it in. That freed up a lot of space, and I was tickled pink with all the support IĀ receivedĀ from you.

Conversely, commiserating about my overwhelm was seriously the worst thing I could to. I had to ban the topic completely, because talking about it only made it evident that I wasn’t working and I needed to be working and omigod, aaaaaaah I’m never going to get this all done!

Lesson learned… maybe not

I’ve done it before and I’m sure I will again, (and so will you, I reckon) so my pets, will you help me out here and tell me YOUR go-to techniques for fighting overwhelm? Vive la crowdsourcing!

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